What is the Loop Q reel?
The Q reel is Loop's latest fly reel and is now their entry-level model starting at £120, filling the price bracket below the Loop Multi (from £207) which has been empty since looped stopped selling the lightweight composite Loop Xact a few years ago.
While the mid arbour Loop Multi is a good quality reel, it's quite understated and somewhat basic in features now. The Q is a step up in both appearance and functionality and shares the large arbour design of its higher-end siblings, as well as the characteristic silver Loop "L" on the back of the reel, making it look much more expensive than it really is.
How is the Loop Q made?
The Q was designed and developed in Scandinavia and made in Korea. In common with most fly reels in this price band, and like its Loop Multi cousin, the Loop Q is made from pressure-cast aluminium rather than machined anodised aluminium. This means it's not quite so light and is a little less resilient to bangs and scratches, but costs a fraction of the price of higher-end reels. For general purpose use, die-cast aluminium reels are fine - most of mine are of this style as the machine aluminium ones tend to be so much more expensive, especially when additional spools are needed.
What sizes are available?
The Q reel comes in four different sizes to suit most types of fly fishing. The smallest is a 4/6 model for grayling and trout, there's a 6/8 for trout and carp, a 7/9 for pike, carp or sea trout and an 8/11 for salmon and other larger species or those who need to hold a larger fly line and more backing. The smallest model has a 91mm diameter, so is a fraction bigger than the Loop Multi 3/6 and of similar size to the Guideline Favo 4/6. The biggest model has a 113mm diameter and has enough room for a big pike fly line or salmon line and the weight to help it balance a bigger fly rod. Each one comes with a drawstring cloth bag.
|Model||Line capacity||Diameter||Inner width||Weight|
|4/6||WF5 + 70 yards of 20lb||91mm||24mm||164g|
|6/8||WF6 + 100 yards of 20lb||98mm||26mm||188g|
|7/9||WF7 + 130 yards of 30lb||105mm||30mm||226g|
|8/11||WF10 + 150 yards of 30lb||113mm||33mm||267g|
How much do they weigh?
Die-cast aluminium reels generally tend to feel a little bit heavier than anodised machined aluminium reels due to their thicker metal. The clever design of this reel means there are huge open areas on the rear section, which greatly reduces weight and adds rigidity. It doesn't feel excessively heavy and balances rods well.
There are some good rivals in this class, such as the Sage 2200 series and the Guideline Favo, which are already very light and the Q is largely similar in weight to these. The Guideline Favo weighs a little bit less in all sizes but has a lower line capacity, so the Q stacks up quite favourably. While the smallest Q is a bit heavier than the smallest Loop Multi, the larger models actually come in a bit lighter.
|Approx. line||Loop Q||Sage 2200||Guideline Favo|
How do you change the spool?
One minor downside of the Loop Multi is that the spool release knob was removable and I am always worried I'll drop it and ruin a day's fishing. The Loop Q now uses the captive-nut system similar to the type found on other reels, such as those from Greys. This is very neatly integrated into the front of the reel and simply rotating the wheel unscrews the spool allowing you to lift it off the central drag housing.
As with the Loop Opti and Multi reels, which I think probably share the same excellent drag mechanism, there's a little lug on the drag that you need to line up with a port on the spool. This is much easier to do on the Loop Q, so changing spools is fairly quick and easy, and less hassle than the Sage 2200 which uses only a push fit system. It's nicely done.
What drag does the Loop Q fly reel use?
The drag assembly looks to be the same Power Matrix one used on Loop's more expensive reels, which is a good thing as it's an excellent system. The drag is fully sealed to prevent water and dirt getting inside and it loosens and tightens quickly and easily using a large, comfortable and grippy drag nut and it clamps down hard when you need it to. The fully sealed drag also means these can be used for saltwater fly fishing too.
There's a very quiet outgoing click, so it's not embarrassingly noisy when stripping off line and there's an embedded counterbalance on the spool so it's balanced perfectly and doesn't shake or wobble even when line is being pulled off quickly. The large arbour means it retrieves line quickly and the small and ergonomically designed handle is the only thing sticking out, so there's little to snag line upon.
What is this reel like to use?
I've been using the Loop Q 6/8 on both a Loop Cross SX and a Loop Q series fly rod, both in 6 weight form. It's nice and light but has a high capacity, so it can house an average thickness fly line with room to spare and should have enough room for most specialist distance lines too. The v-shaped spool also seems to help the line stack neatly when retrieving too. It looks and feels high quality and feels smooth in action.
I think it's a cracking looking reel and it's been very well thought through. For example, the cage is enclosed so there's no way your line or leader can get through any gaps and find itself outside the housing as it can with some other reels. It's impressive for the price tag.
How much does it cost?
Although I own loads of Loop gear (including seven rods and about five reels), Loop let me borrow this one to review. It's not a reel I've purchased myself, but it's one I'd certainly be happy to spend my own cash on. (Update: I now have five!) Were it on the market when I bought my Loop Multis, I'd have gone for this instead. It's excellent value and better looking.
It sells for £120 and £130 depending on the size, making it very competitively priced against the Guideline Favo and Sage 2200 series fly reels, which both sell for similar amounts. The Loop Q fly reel is well-made, extremely stylish fly reel and looks more expensive than it is. If you're after a new reel, this is a solid choice.
More information: Loop Tackle Design